liberating old papers?

A professor at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan has joined the digital revolution with gusto. His column begins with praise of the Internet Archive, which I discussed in a post a few days ago. It ends with a section that announces, “I’ve taken it upon myself to start an organisation called MLOP, the ‘Movement for the Liberation of Old Papers.’ What I do is hack into restricted websites, download the documents I’m interested in, and then use my favourite open-source paint program to remove the copyright statements from each page. Next I assemble the pages into one single pdf file and upload it to the Internet Archive, where it will become universally available to both researchers and citizens. ” Yikes! He was prompted to undertake this personal project because of what he believes is limited access to certain British Parliamentary Papers – they’ve been scanned and archived by a company that charges for access. He believes that this information should be freely available to the public and those conducting research. While I understand that he feels strongly about certain documents being freely available, I wonder if there are not other avenues to finding the papers in other formats (rather than the copyrighted archives of this company)? Interlibrary loan, perhaps? Since I’m not a librarian, I shouldn’t go too far down that road. But while the Internet provides quick and easy access of vast amounts of information (to those who have access to the Internet itself), it is not the only resource. This is a tricky topic: I’m all about access, but I’m also sensitive to copyright. The company in question has done a lot of work to create a usable database (read about it here), and I think they have the right to charge for the use of this tool they created. Such attempts to out the contents of these archives could result in removal of remote access of the archive, moving it to other formats. What do you think?

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